Exclusive INDYCAR Nation News

Schmidt: 'He was going for it

| Oct 18, 2011

LAS VEGAS -- “I’m ready to go for this thing; we can win this thing.”

Dan Wheldon’s final words on the radio, according to team owner Sam Schmidt, bespoke the mental fortitude of the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion and 2005 IZOD IndyCar Series on the racetrack.

“In the car, I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever met more of a fierce competitor,” an emotionally taxed Schmidt said at a news conference 27 hours after Wheldon was pronounced dead of injuries suffered in a crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after only 11 laps of the 200-lap race.

INDYCAR will pay tribute to Wheldon with a public memorial service in the near future in Indianapolis. Further details about the service and how the public can make memorial contributions will be forthcoming.

Wheldon, driving a Sam Schmidt Motorsports car in a technical partnership with Bryan Herta Autosport/Curb Agajanian, was competing in the series’ season finale as part of the Go Daddy INDYCAR Challenge in which he and a sweepstakes winner would split $5 million if he could win the race after starting from the rear of the 34-car field.

“Dan was really up for this GoDaddy Challenge and we spent a lot of time preparing,” said Schmidt, who five weeks earlier was hit with the news that his friend and Firestone Indy Lights team manager, Chris Griffis, had died. “The odds were not in his favor, starting last and getting to the front, but right before he got in that car he was totally confident. More than himself, he wanted to make one lucky fan an instant millionaire and he kept talking about it.”



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